Would you like a job where you can see the results of your hard work on a grand scale? You might like using your practical skills, or have ideas about how public areas should look. Or, you could be interested in technical skills or using machinery, or even planning how something could be built. Either way, the vast and rewarding construction industry has something to offer everyone.
Construction projects are often complex, where there can be up to 60 different jobs involved in one building project. They all have to be done properly, and in the right order, if the building – or structure – is going to be fit for purpose and safe.
The Scottish construction industry employs around 143,000 people, equating to around 5.5% of the Scottish workforce. In 2020, there were 21,100 companies in construction, 11.8% of Scotland’s total companies.
There are over 150 occupations in construction and the built environment, in areas including: architecture, building technology and management, civil and structural engineering, construction crafts, landscape architecture, surveying and town and regional planning.
Jobs range from management to technician and craft roles, all requiring a wide variety of skills, and offering a wide range of opportunities and experience.
To see the routes to getting into each of these sectors, take a look at our Career Pathway.
Possible employers include:
The pandemic outbreak in 2020 affected the Scottish construction industry like many others, with its workforce numbers falling by 1.1% from the previous year, partly caused by how people could work together on site. Across the UK, employment numbers fell by 83,000 (3.7%) between April and June 2020. In August 2020 a total of 2.24 million people were employed in this industry.
Because of the uncertainty that the pandemic brings, it is difficult to give any definitive forecasts on future employment prospects. However, CITB, the Construction Industry Training Board in the UK, compiled a forecast (in partnership with Experian) on their outlook for the construction industry as a result of the pandemic for the period 2021-2025. It indicates that most sub-sectors of construction are set for a challenging few years ahead, although the infrastructure and housing sectors are looking more optimistic.
By 2025 they predict that, should the UK GDP return to pre-Covid-19 levels in 2022, employment numbers could stand at 2,717,000 with a peak of 10% employment (compared to 2,436,000 in 2020). In the worst case scenario, with strict and widespread lockdown measures implemented, employment could stand at around 2,632,000, with a peak of 14% of unemployment.
On a positive note, Scotland’s response to the climate emergency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to Net Zero by 2045 has highlighted the ‘Retrofit Skills Gap’, a major shortfall of specific trades and professions for the task of ‘decarbonising’ existing building stock. It is estimated an extra 22,500 people will be needed for retraining and creating new roles by 2028: this includes 4,300 plumbers and HAVAC engineers for the installation of heat pumps, as well as over 4,600 project managers, and 1,900 building envelope specialists (including insulation installers). This would increase the current Scottish construction workforce by 9%.
CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) is the Sector Skills Council for construction industry. You can find more information about the sectors it covers and related careers and training pathways on the CITB website.